Outdoor Advertising Design Tips & Best Practices

Good Design


  1. 1. Have an Objective

    • Name Recognition.
    • Product or Service Promotion.
    • Special Announcement.
    • Directional.
  2. 2. Start With a Good Idea

    Good ideas are what makes outdoor advertising so impactful. Make careful considerations to the message and the images you choose.

  3. 3. Production Identification

    Make sure you are able to read the advertiser's name.

  4. 4. Short Copy and Be Concise

    Read time is 4 to 5 seconds. Don’t use more than 7 words and keep them short for easy comprehension.

  5. 5. Push Readability - Large and Legibile Type

    Simple fonts. Big text. Contrasting colors. Lettering should be a minimum of one foot tall. Remember these are viewed from 400 - 600 feet.

  6. 6. Increase Line Thickness

    At 600 feet, thin lines disappear.

  7. 7. Forget the "White Space Rule"

    It doesn’t apply to outdoor like it does with print advertising.

  8. 8. Bold Colors

    Be bold with colors. Being subtle at 600 feet doesn’t work.

  9. 9. High Contrast

    For high visibility, use contrasting colors.

  10. 10. Simplify Everything

    Stay with one key idea or objective.

  11. 11. View From a Distance

    Look at the design from 15 feet away for only five seconds. Can you understand it? This stimulates driving past a billboard.

Creative Art Tips for Static and Digital Billboards
Creative Art Tips for Static and Digital Billboards
Creative Art Tips for Static and Digital Billboards
Creative Art Tips for Static and Digital Billboards

Digital Displays

  1. 1. Make the Text Large

    Outdoor designs should be simple, clear and easy to read. Digital billboards should be legible from 500 feet away. Readable text should be at least 15’’ in height.

  2. 2. Use Bold, Non-Serif Fonts

    Always use large, legible typefaces. At 500 feet, thin lines optically fade or break up. Avoid decorative, italic, or serif fonts. As a general rule, upper and lower case sans serif fonts provide the best readability. When designing for digital outdoor, we highly recommend adding a thin dark stroke around the text to separate it from the background.

    Use readable fonts. Choose fonts that will be easily read at various distances. Fonts that are extremely thick, thin, or ornate can be difficult to read. Upper and lower case work better also.

  3. 3. Stick to One Message or Idea

    Simplify everything. The key to effective outdoor is brevity. Because our audience is mobile, you have to decide what’s most important and put that on your board. Don’t present a complex message or numerous images. Have one thing that you want your audience to do or to recognize. The best outdoor media reduces a complex message to it’s essential elements.

  4. 4. Be Short and Sweet

    Use no more than ten words total on the entire billboard – and that includes the logo/product tagline. We recommend seven words or less for the headline. Keep the words short for faster comprehension.

  5. 5. Contrasting Colors

    Use contrasting colors. The stronger the contrast between background color and the copy, the easier it is to read at a distance. Remember, strong contrast equals better readability.

    Use only RGB color for digital displays. Design as you would for a website, TV or computer monitor.

  6. 6. Avoid White Backgrounds

    To achieve white, a combination of all three colors must be turned on to their maximum brightness. Consequently, white backgrounds will wash out and compete with the remainder of your creative.

    In LED technology, white is a mixture of color rather than an absence of color and it has a tendency to look subdued. LED white doesn’t carry the same pop or vibrance that other colors do.

  7. 7. Use Bright, Bold Colors

    Stick with fully saturated web-safe hues. Complimentary colors, such as red and green, are not legible together because they have similar value. Contrasting color combinations work best for viewing outdoor designs at far distances.

    Rich, bold background colors work better during the day, while pastel colors are more vibrant at night.

  8. 8. Design With High Contrast

    Being subtle does not work at great distances. Strong contrast in both hue and value are essential for creating good digital out-of-home.

  9. 9. Pick Your Image Wisely

    Take a small object and make it large (like a watch) rather than a large object small (like a building). Avoid using landscapes or complex scenes. We recommend three visual elements or less, total. For example: one image, one logo and one headline. Busy photos typically do not translate well.

  10. 10. Forget About White Space

    White space does not apply in Outdoor like in printed material. Increase your logo, font sizes and imagery! Having unused visual space at 300 - 500 feet is not recommended.

  11. 11. Test Your Idea

    A billboard is not a print ad, the average viewing time is only about 5 seconds. A good test is to show the design to someone from a distance for only 5 seconds and then ask them about it. Did they understand it? Who was the advertiser? What do they think the advertiser wants them to do?

  12. 12. Digital Production Requirements

    Digital files are normally under 1MB and easy to send by email. We require uncompressed JPEG files (RGB color mode) 1400px W x 400px H for bulletins and 840px W x 400px H for 30 sheet posters.

  13. 13. Change Creative Out Regularly

    With no production charges and no installation schedule, digital advertising gives you freedom like never before. Change your message weekly, daily, or even hourly. Design a creative strategy to keep viewers coming back for more..

Color Tips

Reproduced below are 18 color combinations tested for visibility at various distances by the OAAA. Visibility is ranked in the sequence shown, with 1 the most visible and 18 the least visible.

The color wheel and colored bars, also below, illustrate the need for designers to choose colors for outdoor that are complementary and have a high contrast as well as value. For example, green and red are opposite each other and are therefore complementary colors. They represent a good contrast in hues, but in values they are very similar. The result sets up an annoying vibration. The same is true of blue and orange. Look at the design from 15 feet away for only 5 seconds. Can you understand it? This simulates driving past a billboard.

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